God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

Thoughts, inside, comments of a Catholic priest

Move the world

Move the world – in 100 days around the world

Joachim Franz launches his to date biggest “aids awareness expedition”

Under the leadership of AIDS activist Joachim Franz, mid April a convoy of 5 pick-ups will start their tour around the world. It is an adventure which might be a first of its kind.  12 men and women will conquer the world with the special mission: to move the world and to keep on challenging the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Then still 30 years into the pandemic, the figures are frightening: 33 Million people worldwide are carrying the virus; in 2009 1.8 Million people have been dying as a consequence of their HIV infection.

W = World

Vancouver in Canada will be the starting point of the expedition. From their, Joachim Franz and his team will follow a route around the world, which resembles a big “W” on the world map. North, Middle and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia are part of the 65 000 km route, ending in Australia with an imaginary point behind the “W”. Covering all continents also mean to connect the rich and the poor countries of this world: the rich ones, where HIV means to live with a chronic disease and the poor ones, where HIV means still in most instances death for many reasons.

Donation concept

Supported by the German Foreign Minister, Dr. Guido Westerwelle as patron of the expedition, the challenge is partnered by UNAIDS, the German AIDS Foundation, the German Embassies in the respective countries and other important representatives from the cultural and economic sector. In 50 countries, the participants of the expedition will meet with local and national representatives of the respective countries to understand the HIV/AIDS situation of the country, but also to challenge each and everybody to be part of the fight against HIV and AIDS. People who want to join the cause are asked to donate 1 Euro each – and in doing so supporting the creation of training facilities on all continents to intensify and optimize the work in the fields of HIV and AIDS.

Hardness test for men and material

The extensive route around the world passes different climate zones and unpredictable weather conditions. The vehicles must survive a tough ride over asphalt, pothole roads, gravel, sand and slick. But Joachim Franz and his team are well prepared: Five VW Amarok, fitted with the most modern navigation technology and each equipped with a 163-PS-TDI motor as well as double turbocharging and Commonrail open consumption direct injection, shiftable four wheel drive, rear suspension lock, terrain reduction and underride protection will take the challenge.  Under their hardtops all material is stored: water, equipment and all possible spare parts.

The double cabins will be the working, living and dining room of the team, and if there is resting time, mounted roof tents will provide some shelter. All team members are volunteers and they are coming from all walks of life: Company employees, student, worker, technician, pilot, Catholic priest, paramedic, pilot, entrepreneurs complimented by a team from the media to report on the progress in word and picture. This expedition will be a test of durability for men and vehicle and – due to the fact, that round tables and flights are fixed by day and time – a race against time. Who knows Joachim Franz will recognise this mixture of sportive challenge and HIV/AIDS awareness. Since already 10 years he mixes sports and adventure to make people aware of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the consequent suffering of those affected and infected. Donation money collected in the last expeditions support projects around the world, amongst others projects in South Africa, Asia and South America.

From toolmaker to the European of the year

Joachim Franz discovered his vocation while doing extreme sports – and always he encountered the plights of HIV and AIDS, be it in the townships of South Africa or the hospices in Manila or the homes for former prostitutes in Nepal. He invented the “aids awareness expedition” as his trademark to combat the HIV and AIDS pandemic. In the last 10 years he mountain biked the Sahara, he ran Marathon in South Africa, took on the Pan Americana by bike, conquered the 20 highest mountains between the north cape and Cape Town and added several extreme accomplishments involving the Pik Pobedy (7349 m) close to China or the Aconcagua (6959 m) in the Andes. For his dedication he was elected “European of the year” (Readers Digest Europe) in 2009, he was awarded the “Prix Romantik Liebold” of the Romantik Hotel Association and in 2010, he was the laureate of the HOPE Award in Dresden. “Move the world marks now the culmination of this idea: to move the world with a team of like-minded people through audacity, endurance and power – a way hardly tried by anybody else in this combination.

The globe is rolling through Europe

Besides the expedition a fundraising effort is launched in Europe with inflatable globes: A second team will travel through Europe and invite everybody to support the expedition – in pedestrian zones, schools, companies. Latter can order such big or small globes to do their own projects in support of the “move the world” expedition. People are invited to send in photos with themselves and the globe and showing so their solidarity with the expedition.

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HIV, AIDS and HOPE – thoughts of a Catholic priest

Being a Roman - Catholic priest and working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in Africa is often a challenge. Living in Africa has also its challenges. On the other hand I feel very much blessed having all the three. So you will find stories and reflections about my work, about the church, South Africa and Africa and essential information and developments in the field of HIV and AIDS. And in between personal stories and thoughts. You are most welcome to leave a comment or to get in touch with me - blogs - "thinking loud" so to speak is a ways of communication and exchange of ideas.

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